Amir Locke shooting: Family of Minneapolis, Minnesota man shot, killed in no-knock raid sues city

MINNEAPOLIS — The parents of Amir Locke, who was shot dead by a Minneapolis police officer a year ago while a SWAT team was executing a search warrant, sued the city and the officer on Friday, claiming he was “gunned down in cold blood” in violation of his constitutional rights.

Locke, 22, who was black and had hoped to pursue a career as a hip-hop artist, was asleep on a couch at his cousin’s downtown apartment when authorities announced on February 2, 2022, as part of an investigation of a murder occurred without knocking in neighboring St. Paul, where Locke was not a suspect. Body camera video showed Locke holding a gun before he was shot seconds after officers broke in.

“This has to stop,” Locke’s mother, Karen Wells, said at a news conference. “Amir will be the face of the warrant ban. He will not die in vain.”

Prosecutors last April declined to charge any of the officers involved, saying the video showed Locke pointing a gun at officer Mark Hanneman to justify his use of deadly force.

But the lawsuit, filed in federal court by attorneys Ben Crump and Jeff Storms, alleges that Hanneman acted too hastily when he fired three times. And it denies official claims that Locke pointed his gun at officials. It calls for unspecified damages and the appointment of an officer to ensure the city properly trains and supervises its officers.

“Amir, like many Americans, kept a pistol within reach while he slept. Even half asleep when Amir reached for the pistol, he demonstrated correct and responsible handling by holding the pistol away from officers and keeping his finger away from it. Amir never raised the gun towards an officer or put his finger on the trigger.” , according to the complaint.

“Any sane official would have understood that Amir needed an opportunity to see who and what was surrounding him and then give him an opportunity to disarm himself. Hanneman did not give Amir such an opportunity, although Amir never pointed the pistol at Hanneman or put his finger on the trigger,” the complaint continued.

Crump, who has been dubbed “Black America’s Attorney General,” has won multimillion-dollar settlements in numerous police brutality cases, including $27 million for the family of George Floyd, whose killing by a Minneapolis officer eclipsed a statewide reckoning started the race.

“The city will review the complaint as soon as it receives it,” city spokesman Casper Hill said in an email.

RELATED: Chicago-area family of Amir Locke calls for an end to no-knock search warrants

Wells compared the video showing her son’s death to the video she forced herself to watch of the death of Tire Nichols at the hands of police in Memphis, Tennessee, “another person who died at the hands of those who… said they were here to protect and serve them. … This must not happen again.”

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and then-Hennepin District Attorney Michael Freeman said in denying the charges that without the warrant Locke might not have been shot. However, they said there was not enough evidence to prove beyond a doubt that Hanneman broke state law about when police could use deadly force.

Locke was killed during the trial of three former Minneapolis police officers in federal court in St. Paul on civil rights charges in the Floyd murder. Locke’s death has reignited mistrust of the police and sparked new protests against policing and racism.

And it prompted Mayor Jacob Frey to severely restrict warrants, telling officers to knock and wait before entering, with limited exceptions. While some lawmakers have called for a statewide ban on warrants, the proposal died in the legislature last year. Some lawmakers have expressed an interest in returning.

The complaint alleges that the use of the warrant that led to Locke’s death was “consistent with Minneapolis’ customs, patterns and practices of racial discrimination in policing.” And it’s claimed that law enforcement officials should have known from previous court cases and citizen complaints involving Hanneman that he didn’t understand department policies or constitutional rights.

Locke was killed seconds after the SWAT team entered at 6:48 am. Body camera video showed an officer unlocking the door and walking inside, followed by at least four uniformed officers in riot gear. They kept shouting: “Police, search warrant!” They also shouted “Hands!” and “Get on the floor!”

Edited video, released the next day, showed an officer kicking a sofa, and Locke was wrapped in a duvet and shown with a gun. Three shots were heard and the video ended.

“I was confident that the person would fire their pistol and that I would suffer serious bodily harm or death,” Hanneman wrote in his statement to investigators. “I felt at that moment that if I didn’t use deadly force myself, I would probably be killed.”

Crump has previously compared Locke’s death to that of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in a 2020 botched Kentucky police raid in which her boyfriend first shot officers as they broke into her home.

“We should have learned from Breonna Taylor,” Storms said at the press conference. “We had the chance not to make the mistake ourselves. We had the attention as a city. … So we don’t learn from our mistakes and we don’t learn from the known mistakes of others.”

Locke’s cousin Mekhi Camden Speed, who was 17 at the time of the raid, pleaded guilty last May to assisting and abetting second-degree unintentional murder while charged with the crime of aggravated robbery for the May 10 killing of Otis Elder. January 2022 committed. 38

The video in the player above is from a previous report.

Copyright © 2023 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Amir Locke shooting: Family of Minneapolis, Minnesota man shot, killed in no-knock raid sues city

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